Dark tourism refers to the travel of people into locations that are historically connected to tragedy and/or death (Dalton, 2014). This form of tourism has many issues due to its sensitive nature. Some of these issues include criticism due to its alleged exploitation of the dead and increasing the suffering of people still haunted by past horrors.
Critics have faulted dark tourism since it thrives on the reminiscence of dark memories. It is unacceptable that tourists seek entertainment from areas that were locations of suffering and death in the past. Tourism operators are also criticized for being greedy such that they generate revenue from the macabre, in spite of whether it is for education or memorial purposes. Many cultures believe that the dead should be buried and left to rest in peace. Therefore, keeping dead bones for exhibition seems like exploitation of the dead. An example is Rwanda’s Genocide Museums that commemorate the infamous 1994 genocide that claimed about a million lives (Briggs & Booth, 2010).
Dark tourism has also been criticized for increasing the suffering of a place’s residents who are often still troubled by past horrors. Tourism activity that is inspired by death and suffering that occurred years ago may be inconsequential to organizers who want to benefit from it. However, some people lost family members and friends who might feel saddened by these memories. Contrary to dark tourism’s purpose of reminding the world about a certain tragedy, many people opt to forget painful memories.
Despite the sensitivity of the issues raised against dark tourism, efficient management can help reduce criticism. There is a widespread belief that dark tourism thrives on memories of death and tragedy. Moreover, tourism operators have been criticized for taking advantage of a historical cataclysm to make profits. This has been seen as a form of taking advantage of people who suffered sad deaths. An example is the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland that serves as a sad memory of the Jewish annihilation before the end of World War II (Alexander, 2015). This issue can be managed by establishing a clear purpose as to why this tourist destination exists. Visitors should be educated on the tragedy that occurred in that destination as well as the importance of using dark tourism to commemorate the tragedy.
Education and sensitization of local communities are also important in ensuring that people are not increasingly traumatized by the memories associated with dark tourism. This is because these destinations serve as painful reminders of the tragedies/death that happened in a given place. However, people living in such a location should be sensitized to appreciate the role of a dark tourist destination in helping avoid a reoccurrence of the tragedy. The Rwanda Genocide Memorial Museums are impeccable examples of destinations that remind citizens of the evils of ethnic cleansing (Joachim, 2012). The government, through social programs, can help reduce this phenomenon. Moreover, it is critical to eliminate tourist operators who only seek to benefit from such sites.
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Alexander, E. (2015). The Dark Tourism of the Bosnian Screen. Luton, Bedfordshire: Andrews UK.
Briggs, P., & Booth, J. (2010). Rwanda. Chalfont St. Peter: Bradt Travel Guides.
Dalton, D. (2014). Dark tourism and crime (Vol. 34). Routledge.
Joachim, N. (2012). Investigating the challenges of promoting dark tourism in Rwanda.Retrieved from https://www.grin.com/document/265137